There are many benefits to an age diverse workplace; knowledge sharing, problem solving, and innovative thinking. Yet, employability seems to diminish the older you get. It is a missed opportunity given the wealth of information and experience older generations bring to the table.
We all know that laws in New Zealand prohibit age discrimination. However, the Government recognises older workers can face unique and complex challenges in finding and staying in paid employment. Because of this, the Government announced the Older Workers Employment Action Plan (OWEAP) in April 2022, which aims to improve employment outcomes for older people.
OWEAP is one of seven action plans that support the Government’s Employment Strategy. It focuses on people over 50 who are working or want and need to work. Age discrimination is felt mostly when job seeking. Assumptions are made about a person’s suitability for the job even though they may have the right behavioural attributes and skills ideally suited to a role. Discrimination often impacts women more, which contributes to the compounding disadvantages of previously being in unpaid career roles, or low-paid work.
Along with the need to support an older workforce the Government’s action plan to encourage an age diverse workplace looks to:
- Create a landscape that supports productive and sustainable workplaces as we face a changing world of work.
- Respond to the changing nature of work in an equitable way, by partnering with businesses and workers to ensure that our labour market is inclusive.
In support of businesses the OWEAP includes a mature workers toolkit that provides helpful resources.
- Worksheet to write great job ads.
- Build-your-own policy for on-the-job learning.
- Tips on leading and working with mature staff.
- Case studies.
The population of New Zealand is changing. Around 34% of the current population is aged 50 and over and this proportion will grow to around 37.5% (or 2.1 million people) by 2033. That’s a huge group of potentially underutilised contributors to New Zealand’s labour pool.
It is time to change our thinking. To value and recognise that older generations play an integral role in the overall wellbeing of a workplace, to the on-going success of a business, to the nurturing and growth of younger workers, and to the economy. Now more than ever we need to see the person, not their age.